Some months ago at an atrium sale, I chanced upon this craft kit called ‘Aquabeads’. Each boxed kit was selling at S$10, and its usual price is about S$30.
I happily assumed that these were the same as the water beads other enlightened parents used for sensory table play. You know like those horrendously expensive water beads, Orbeez? But these seemed a little different with crafty picture tablets for kids to make stuff with using the beads. So I got a box to try.
After we got home, my son, my 3.9yo son – Lee, couldn’t wait to break open the box to try.
What are Aquabeads?
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that these aquabeads are in NO way related to the water beads. Aquabeads are plastic-ky and sticky when wet. And they do not shrink and allow themselves to be ‘reused’ in the same way you can with water beads.
What do you do with them?
Our Aquabeads kit came with a neat organiser filled with various coloured beads, a pen, a few craft image cards, a crafting holder and a water spray.
All you have to do is to decide which picture you would like to form using the beads, slot the card into the plastic bead holder and then bead away using the pen provided.
The pen girth was just the right size for my Lee’s little hands. However, learning to work the pen well requires very good hand-eye coordination because the beads are rather tiny and slippery. I had to help Lee a few times in the beginning with the picking up of beads.
To load the pen, you just need to gently press the pen tip over the bead.
To place the bead onto the holder, lightly tap the release button on the front of the pen. If your child has developed a good pen grip, he should find it easy as the release button is perfectly placed under the position of the index finger.
Once you are done placing the beads into an image, spray water over the beads. The beads get sticky and seem to ‘grow’ a little before they stick together. You have to wait till they dry to pick them up.
I think we have yet to work out the best way to spray and dry them because we either move them out of the tray too early, and some bead breaks off. Or we leave them too long in there, and the base of the beads seems to get extra sticky gunk and some of the colours from the darker black and brown beads seem to bleed.
I like that while there are image templates for your child to follow, the craft medium and supplies allow him to express his own creativity and ideas.
The only challenge I have for now is thinking of what I can do with the completed crafts – card decorating accessories? bookmarkers? What else?
It is a really great quiet time activity for both mom and child where child crafts and Mom naps.
HOWEVER if you have a nosey-parker tot like me, you will probably not have time to nap but play ‘barrier gates’ with the tot as you try to keep him away from spilling or swallowing the beads.
Lee loved the activity but it took him a few days to work up the needed stamina to finish a small image. I had to help him complete most of them in the first 2 attempts.
To be fair, a lot of concentration and fine motor skills and finger strength is demanded of little ones. Older children 5 and up should have no problems completing small images on their own.
In terms of prices, I may not have paid for it if it were on full-price, and the refill packs seems quite expensive. However, the longevity of the product does make it quite a good investment for parents whose kids enjoy such quiet work. The more active children may find it quite a challenge to sit and complete the work.